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The snow is beginning to melt quickly and soon spring will transition into summer. There’s nothing more symbolic in late spring or early summer than visiting one of the “great lakes” in the Sierra Nevada. Here’s some of the most scenic lakes in the High Sierra that you may not have heard of.

Convict Lake

Convict Lake Best Lakes In the high sierra
Image appears courtesy: Mono County Economic Development, Tourism & Film Commission

When it comes to scenic lakes in the High Sierra, Mono County is filled with options. From Mono to Twin, there’s too many to count! On the top of this list is the one and only Convict Lake. Named for the historic 1871 shootout that took place on its shores, it’s surrounded by rugged peaks rising almost 5,000’ feet above its surface. This landscape creates a stunning alpine backdrop that everyone must see in person. There’s even tales that Convict Lake is home to a monstrous brown trout named ”Horgon” that few have seen and no one has ever landed.

Heather Lake & Its Buddies

Heather Lake Lakes Trail Sequoia National Park
Image appears courtesy:

In the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, there are nearly 3,200 lakes within the boundaries of these majestic reserves. With SO many to see, the question that comes to mind is “Where do I even start?” For us, it’s simple… Heather Lake! With the majority of the freshwater basins being located above 8,000’, this body of water at 9,280’ is a shining example of one of them. And since it’s on the Lakes Trail, for those with a bit more energy you can check out Emerald and Pear Lakes too.

Independence Lake

Independence Lake
Image appears courtesy: Truckee Donner Land Trust

While good ‘ole big blue deserves all the accolades and love, there are some lakes smaller in size albeit more tranquil during the busy times of year. The hidden gem known as Independence Lake is located between the historic town of Truckee and Sierraville. Considered one of the most pristine alpine lakes west of the Rockies, this body of water is home to one of only TWO self-sustaining populations of the native Lahontan cutthroat trout in the world. And this isn’t any ordinary fish. Sadly, it’s been lost from 99% of its historic range.

The goal of this list isn’t to say that these are the most scenic lakes in the High Sierra. It’s rather to spark the wanderlust in your soul and spread the good vibes that summer is almost here! So… ready, set, dip and experience these in person!

Author: Alex Silgalis

Alex Silgalis is an outdoors travel writer who enjoys snowboarding, mountain biking, or having a cold one from a local mountain brewery. See more of Alex’s work at

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